K O M B U C H A - the immortal health elixar
Since first sip I've been a little addicted to Kombucha. It's like a tangy cider but with health benefits, and the Chinese call it an "Immortal Health Elixir" as they have used it for over 2000 years. It's extremely refreshing on a hot day and great for me as I avoid overly sugary drinks. I'm currently reading a great book called "Managing Multiple Sclerosis Naturally" by Judy Graham and she's written a little chapter on it as a natural or alternative therapy. Also a massage therapist from back home swears by it so mum was singing its praises when she recently visited. And to my delight it seems to be quite popular at the moment, accessible at most cafes we go to and the farmers market.
So I thought i'd look into Kombucha a little more and see what kind of health benefits it provides. In terms of how it helps MS directly I found this great article on www.kombuchaamerica.com .
In general Dr Axe from draxe.com has written this great piece on the health benefits below.
"Beneficial Probiotics in Kombucha
An article published in the journal Food Microbiology established that the following probiotics make up this health elixir:
- Gluconacetobacter (>85 percent in most samples)
- Acetobacter (<2 percent)
- Lactobacillus (up to 30 percent in some samples)
- Zygosaccharomyces (>95 percent)
Ultimately, this cocktail of good bacteria interact together in a unique way to produce some unbelievable health benefits for those who drink it.
7 Kombucha Health Benefits
In research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2014, researchers from the University of Latvia say the following about the health benefits of kombucha:
It is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.
We agree! In fact, according to research there are five main health benefits of kombucha.
The detoxifying capacity of kombucha is immense. A perfect example is in its ability to counteract liver cell toxicity.
In one study, the liver cells were protected from oxidative injury and actually maintained their normal physiology, in spite of being exposed to a toxin! According to researchers, this was “probably due to its antioxidant activity and could be beneficial against liver diseases, where oxidative stress is known to play a crucial role.”
Naturally, the antioxidant prowess of this ancient tea counteracts free radicals that create mayhem in the digestive system. However, the greatest reason kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics and enzymes.
Some research has shown kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal leaky gut and stomach ulcers. No surprise to us, in some instances it’s even proven to be as effective as drugs like Prilosec, which are commonly prescribed for heartburn, GERD and ulcers.
Kombucha can also help heal candida yeast from overpopulating within the gut because it helps restore balance to the digestive system. Kombucha is a great way to fight candida because it contains live probiotic cultures that help the gut to repopulate with good bacteria while crowding out the candida yeast. Kombucha does have bacteria, but these are not harmful pathogen bacteria, instead they are the beneficial kind (called “apathogens”) that compete with “bad” pathogen bacteria in the gut and digestive tract.
One thing to mention here is that candida or other digestive problems can sometimes be complicated issues to fix and symptoms might actually get worse before getting better. This doesn’t mean that kombucha isn’t effective or is exacerbating the problem, just that gut problems aren’t always a straight path to healing and at times some patience or trial and error is needed.
Kombucha’s ability to invigorate people is credited to the formation of iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process. It also contains some caffeine (although in very small amounts) and b-vitamins, which can energize the body.
Through a special process known as chelation, the iron released helps boost blood hemoglobin, improving oxygen supply to tissues and stimulating the energy-producing process at the cellular level. In other words, by helping the body create more energy (ATP), the ancient tea can help those who regularly drink it stay energized.
4. Immune Health
The overall effect that kombucha has to modulate the immune system is best seen in its ability to control free radicals through antioxidant measures.
Clinically proven to decrease oxidative stress and related immuno-suppression, a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) was discovered during the kombucha fermentation process that’s not found in black tea alone.
Scientists suspect that DSL and the vitamin C present in kombucha are its main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumors and overall depression of the immune system. Also, we know the probiotics found in kombucha support the immune system.
5. Joint Care
Kombucha can help heal, repair and prevent joint damage in a number of ways. Kombucha is loaded with glucosamines, which increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. This supports the preservation of collagen and prevents arthritic pain. In the same way it supports joint collagen, it also supports collagen of the entire body and reduces the appearance of wrinkles on the skin.
6. Cancer Prevention
Kombucha is also beneficial for cancer prevention and recovery. A study published in Cancer Letters found that consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
President Reagan even reportedly drank kombucha daily as part of his regimen to battle stomach cancer.
7. Weight Loss
Data from a study in 2005 showed evidence that kombucha improves metabolism and limits fat accumulation. Though we need to see more studies before we can confirm these results, it makes sense that kombucha supports weight loss since it’s high in acetic acid (just like apple cider vinegar is) and polyphenols, which are proven to help increase weight loss."
Dr Josh Axe www.draxe.com
So after becoming a little addicted to it, we (my boyfriend, my mum & me) decided to grow a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), to make our own brew. It's also a great alcohol alternative for me as I don't drink much anymore, or havn't since I got out of hospital.
There are a few things you need to be conscious of when making kombucha. You need to be super clean when making it, any funny smells or odd looking forms or mould growing that you notice, you'll need to chuck your scoby, sterilise everything and start again. And always use glass, no plastic, metal or ceramic is allowed as they can leach and potentially contaminate your brew.
Here's a great site for taking you through step by step on how to make it for yourself. This is the site I use - www.thekitchn.com
Update: Something I noticed with a sudden increase in drinking Kombucha which I thought i'd share in case your experiencing something similar. My face broke out in horrendous acne which I've never suffered from before. I first contacted my neuro as I thought it was my medication but he said it wasn't related. I then realised the only thing i'd been doing lately was drinking kombucha everyday. So I did some research and found out that with its detoxifying benefits it can cause something called a "Healing Crisis" or "Herxhiemer Reaction" which can come out in many different ways. In my case it was my skin. At first I avoided kombucha completely to see if it was giving me the acne and sure enough my skin calmed down. So I drank heaps of water daily to flush out my system and slowly re-introduced it again. It's been about 3 weeks and it's finally going away. So don't be alarmed if this happens to you just drink heaps of water to flush the toxins through and cut back, maybe even give it a break for a few weeks and then you can slowly re-introduce it if you want.
I also noticed that after using the same scoby for quite a few batches that I began to experience nausea from drinking my own Kombucha. So I decided to throw it out and make a new scoby which seemed to fix the problem. I've read that because the scobies are living breathing things that they can absorb potential toxins in the environment, so clean air flow is good for them which I usually do but I guess it had been so long that it was time to start again and refresh the situation. I also read that a sign of a good healthy scoby is when they produce scoby babies. These are just additional little scobies.